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Burnett And The Rest Of The Bullpen

This month, several members of Washington's bullpen have endured a brutal backslide. Take away Tyler Clippard (who's appeared in just two games in July), and here are the respective ERAs this month.

Joe Beimel -- 4.50
Jason Bergmann -- 5.40
Mike MacDougal -- 8.10
Julian Tavarez -- 12.10
Ron Villone -- 22.25

Here are the WHIPS (in July) of the same group:

Bergmann -- 1.20
Beimel -- 1.75
Tavarez -- 3.33
Villone -- 3.75
MacDougal -- 3.90

Now granted, these numbers are all built off a small sample size. Bergmann's been just fine since his call-up. But that trio of vets, especially, (Tavarez/Villone/MacDougal) has lost its reliability. That development adds up to something significant: This month, the Nats bullpen has again been horrid. So, Sean Burnett's June 30 acquisition has been all the more important. Since joining the Nats, Burnett has pitched 6-1/3 innings, allowing just two hits and one earned run. The lefty is convinced he's pitching better than he has in years.

Last year, Burnett worried about his left arm. Reconstructive elbow surgery, related shoulder surgery and then the arduous recovery had kept him out of the big leagues in 2005, 2006 and 2007, but 2008 presented its own challenge. His sinker felt like a flatter, sadder version of what he wanted. He had no feel for his delivery. He appeared in 58 games for the Pirates, and cobbled together a 4.76 ERA. "But I came to the park every day wondering, 'Is this the day my arm is gonna break down?" Burnett said on Saturday.

Burnett still remembers flying home after Pittsburgh's final game last year, feeling a sense of relief. Season over, no injuries.

But another leap forward? He wasn't so certain.

Turns out, Burnett is still pushing through new barriers -- and breaking them -- even some five years after his elbow surgery. This year, for the first time since the Tommy John procedure, Burnett feels back to his old self.

"It's funny," Burnett said. "I just said recently, I was talking to the guys in Pittsburgh, saying that I was finally starting to get a feel again for my sinker. I'm up to my old ways finally, and only then do I get traded. This is the strongest I've been and the healthiest I've felt and probably the most confident I've been since 2004."

"He's thrown the ball really good for us," Manny Acta said. "As good as anticipated. We scouted him good, and the reports we got on him were right on target. He throws strikes. He's got good sink on his fastball. He's been effective against lefties and righties."

*

One other note here...

Ryan Zimmerman, flying back from his grandmother's funeral in N.C., is expected to land in Houston somewhere around the time of tonight's first pitch. He might be available for a late-game pinch-hit.

By Chico Harlan  |  July 11, 2009; 6:38 PM ET
 
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Next: Nats 13, Astros 2

Comments

Those numbers would look okay if we were measuring cholesterol levels...

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | July 11, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

CHarlan - sometimes the stars align & minds come in synch. From the previous string...
-----------------------
For whatever it's worth, I ran the numbers for the bullpen to-date, and IMO...

> Clippard (1.33WHIP, .250BAA) should be left on the mound for 1-2IP per outing; let's see what he's got.
> Bergmann (1.69WHIP, .286BAA) might be a 4-A pitcher; good for two or three outings of 1+IP each, then gets crushed. [As an aside, that's hard for me to say as I'm a big Bergmann fan].
> Burnett[LH] (0.48WHIP, .091BAA w/WAS) looks like more than just a lefty specialist, and should be worth an inning per outing until he can't get right-handers out.
> Beimel[LH] (1.59WHIP, .261BAA) gives up a lot of flyballs; Pitching & playing more of a set-up pitcher than an 8th-inning specialist this year.
> Tavarez (1.72WHIP, .221BAA) wastes too many pitches (19.5 pitches per inning - highest on team) looking for a strikeout & issues a lot of walks (30 - highest in bullpen) as a result.
> Villone[LH] (1.79WHIP, .247BAA) was brilliant earlier in the season, but is regressing to the mean; Still reasonably effective as a LOOGY, might have been stretched too far earlier in the season.
> MacDougal (1.94WHIP, .258BAA) is relying far too much on his 4-seam fastball of late; mixing in an occaisional slider or off-speed pitch might help. However, he's still the closest thing to a closer that this team has.


Posted by: BinM | July 11, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: BinM | July 11, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

back into the torture chamber for the nightly three-hour tour.

Posted by: surly_w | July 11, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

If you were to convert these numbers to WHIP and ERA per payroll dollar spent, Washington's numbers would look a whole lot better, maybe even approaching MLB average (or not too far below). Agree with BinM on his analysis 100 percent. Burnett needs more of a chance, and the Nats might check out what's happening in Syracuse or Harrisburg these days. Some of the current guys are begging to be sent down or cut loose.

Posted by: EdDC | July 11, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

AND I THOUGHT I HAD SEEN IT ALL! 10 bucks says we lose by 1 now.

Posted by: amorris525 | July 11, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

What???????? You gotta be kidding! Adam Dunn missed 2nd base. What next?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 11, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

dunn didn't touch 2B. oh goody! we haven't run out of ways to eff it up yet! Can't wait to see what's next.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 11, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

the astros are just trying to make us overconfident. how did the dunn-key miss 2nd? it's where it has always been, isn't it?

Posted by: surly_w | July 11, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Julian Tavarez has gone from a Fastball first pitcher to a slider is my bread and butter guy.
FB% SL%
63% 21% Career
53% 25% 2008
36% 49% 2009

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | July 11, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

What is next in the "I cant believe what I just saw". It will be interesting if the Nats just mail it in now thinking they are just destined to lose. Come on Stammen have another good outing to limit the # of innings were forced to watch the bullpen.

Posted by: JT2009 | July 11, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

They took away his hit, too.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 11, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

This could happen here, and it won't take 20 years, because we don't have fond memories of World Series champs like the Royals' fans do. It is ironic that KC never hired Bill James, who would rather work for them than the Red Sox.

"And frankly, I’m not sure if I can take it any more. I’ve been a die-hard fan for 20 years now, and I’m not closer to seeing my allegiance rewarded today than I was 20 years ago. I’ll continue to blog and host my radio show through the end of the season, and – because I bought my plane tickets and non-refundable hotel reservations on Thursday – I’m still planning to be at the ballpark next weekend.

But next weekend may well be a farewell tour of the stadium for me, because at this point I can’t commit to anything after October. I’ve spent my entire adolescent and adult life rooting for and writing about this team, and it’s been two decades of unrequited love. I’ve got too much to be thankful for in my life to let it be spoiled by the imperious decisions of a front office that looks down upon the very idea of the statistical analysis that I’ve advocated for so many years, and that has contributed to the success of so many other teams"
Rany Jazayerli, Rany on the Royals, July 11, 2009

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

GREAT POSTS BinM! Thanks!

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

"It is ironic that KC never hired Bill James, who would rather work for them than the Red Sox."

Ironic in a way, Flynnie, but characteristic in another. The Wal-Mart empire is the only organization that could make Peter Angelos look good.

It may be too early to draw such a conclusion in D.C., but Dr. Rany's rant is nonetheless a cautionary tale for the Nats.

Posted by: Hendo1 | July 11, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Howdy, Hendo! For all the Nationals news and analysis, I go to Hendo's Hutch, a truly great blog. What is your explanation for tonight's game? Did Cecil Cooper bet on the Nats?

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

RONNIE BELLIARD! Best 3rd baseman in the Dominican - sweet double play!

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Awe, c'mon, Hendo. Between you and SoCH, you just wish the richest owners in baseball in one of the largest markets actually ran their team that way. And were hiring stat guys.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | July 11, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Anyone want a nice read on the guy who turned down the Yankees to dance for the New York Ballet?

America's Studliest Ballet Dancer Returns

http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2009/01/americas_studliest_ballet_danc.html

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

@flynnie2: He's a poor bettor if he put his money on Mike Hampton. (KIDDING, Coop.)

@jca-CC: They might yet. They at least shed Jim Bowden, who would have been perfectly capable of the Betancourt deal.

Posted by: Hendo1 | July 11, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

@flynnie: thanks.

Onto current events - So Cooper decides to pull LH Hampton for RH Paulino; Johnson (a LH hitter) then doubles.

>Stupid move; Fire Cooper immediately - Fire him Yesterday! This manager has no clue how to handle a baseball team; Why is he still here. Blah-blah-blah...<

Sound Familiar?

Posted by: BinM | July 11, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

@flynnie2: Oh, and thanks for the shout out. /blush

Posted by: Hendo1 | July 11, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

FYI, from Twitter the word is that Elton John's piano failed and they had to stop the concert in Nationals Park on his 3rd song.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 11, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Bard is an Iron Man. Stammen got to first beautifully for Nick the Pick to get that last out.

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

i know this chick is loving the long ball. thank you baseball gods.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 11, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Wow - the Nats could actually win. Lets get the lead to the point even the Nats bullpen cant blow.

Posted by: JT2009 | July 11, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

What is the record for solo HRs?

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 11, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

YEEEEESSS! NICK! JOSH! BACK TO BACK AND BELLY TO BELLY!!!! 8-2!!!!

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

OMG!! 3 IN A ROW!?! HOLY SMOKES!!!! I cannot believe what i'm hearing.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 11, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Wooohoooo!!!

back-to-back-to-back...How about this new line-up. Acta the genius!

Posted by: Naugatuck-Nats | July 11, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

ADAM DUNN!!!9-2!!!

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

For those of you radio heads:

Carpenter : Nationals are red-hot following marriage proposals (showing couple).

She's crying.

Dibble: She's crying because of the small rock.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 11, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

@Nats_Lady: Great - If true, Steinblog will be all over that come Monday - (Nats' Piano FAIL).

Onto current events: Back-to-Back-to-Back HR's (Johnson-Willingham-Dunn). Ohhh-yeaaahh. Go Nats!

Posted by: BinM | July 11, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Nats NON-FAIL, Nick Johnson caught a pop-up. Things are looking up.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 11, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

this is not my team. what have you done with my team?

Posted by: NatsNut | July 11, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

New Sunshine Bobby Carpenter Drinking Game: one shot every time he yelps, "How far is that one going to go?" Then the shortstop catches it.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | July 11, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

YES, NICK!!! JohnRinDC, I call upon you to cheer our 1st baseman!

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

chico, did they have some sort of sacrificial ceremony exorcism thing in the clubhouse today?

Posted by: NatsNut | July 11, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

This is SO much fun!!! Remember, we have to live on this for who knows how long.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 11, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

OH, YEAH, JOSH! MAY THIS BE THE BEGINNING OF OUR 72 WINS!!

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

No more calls please, we have the post of the day:

this is not my team. what have you done with my team?

Posted by: NatsNut

Posted by: jdschulz50 | July 11, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

chico, did they have some sort of sacrificial ceremony exorcism thing in the clubhouse today?

Posted by: NatsNut | July 11, 2009 9:22 PM
**************************

Yes. Jo-Bu is pleased.

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Man, I REALLY wish the Nats could play like this everyday! 20 hits! Yeah!

Posted by: rachel216 | July 11, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Yes, and here comes Cap'n Morgan. Not missing this one.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 11, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

From Wikipedia, Major League: "Cerrano comes to the plate and misses badly on two curveballs. He angrily gives up his loyalty to the voodoo gods, and hits a two-run home run off a curveball on the next pitch to tie the game. In an ironic twist, it is Harris (a seemingly devout Christian) who places Cerrano's voodoo doll Jo-bu at his side while warming up while Cerrano ends his allegiance with the doll. . . .Dennis Haysbert remained best known as Pedro Cerrano until he portrayed US President David Palmer on the television series 24."

Isn't Dennis Haysbert the spokesman for Allstate? Is Allstate relying on Jo-Bu now?

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

I underestimated the Steinbog - It's already up (Nationals' Concert Fail); I haven't read it yet, but does this guy now just make his living off on "busting the b@ll$" on local teams, and if so, at what point will he finally turn sour on "Agent Zero", & the 'zards?

Posted by: BinM | July 11, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

You're in good hands with Jo-Bu.

Posted by: Section220 | July 11, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

I underestimated the Steinbog - It's already up (Nationals' Concert Fail); I haven't read it yet, but does this guy now just make his living off on "busting the b@ll$" on local teams, and if so, at what point will he finally turn sour on "Agent Zero", & the 'zards?

Posted by: BinM | July 11, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Jo-Bu woke up Ronnie? I might start believing.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 11, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Some random thoughts on pitchers
By Phil Wood on July 8, 2009 9:06 PM | Permalink |
I was talking with Ray Knight last night at the MASN studios, and we both came up with the same thought.

Why does it seem like Craig Stammen came out of nowhere?


Obviously, it's not like Joe Hardy in "Damn Yankees." Stammen is a former 12th round draft pick from the 2005 draft, but before this year - as recently as spring training this past March - his name never really surfaced in any conversations about Nats' pitching prospects.

Ray thinks it's because he was drafted after the 10th round, and I tend to agree with him. His minor league numbers weren't exactly earthshaking: last year, between 3 levels, he went 8-7 in 23 starts, 150.1 innings, with an ERA of 3.52. More impressive, perhaps, was a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Before his callup in May he was 4-2, 1.80, in 7 starts at Syracuse.

His lone big league win came against the Yankees, but his outing against the Rockies the other night was first rate, and while it's waaaaay too soon to make any super optimistic projections about him, it does seem he's worked his way into the picture as far as 2010 and beyond. He's got that bulldog intensity that some find particularly attractive.

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Oh, that's funny, 220!

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Everybody got a hit--even the pitcher--except Austin Kearns, of course.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 11, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

To be fair though, Kearns only had one AB. But I know what you mean, he's been struggling mightily.

Posted by: rachel216 | July 11, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Manny's not turning it over to the bullpen! At 11-2!

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

13-2 Flynnie. Actually we shouldn't be having so much fun we don't notice Stammen is pitching an excellent game.

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 11, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, NatsLady - watching them the last few months, I lost my ability to count that high, and when I looked at the TV, I thought I was hallucinating!

Posted by: flynnie2 | July 11, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

It's nice for once to have a big lead going into the late innings.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | July 11, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Really great for Stamen. I wonder if he sticks for the whole season? He may need protecting, or he may prove himself to be a back of the rotation innings eater. Right now chewing innings is more important than anything.

Posted by: soundbloke | July 11, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

So, what did I miss . . .

Oh happy day! I came home, turned on the Braves games, saw the score and have spent the last hour sitting in the family room afraid that if I came in and listened to the game the Astros might stage some kind of cosmic comeback (not that I'm superstitous or anything). Way to go Nats!
And way to go Stammen!

Posted by: lowcountry | July 11, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Steinberg no longer interests me.

Posted by: NatsNut | July 11, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

That was fun! Missed the first hour because we were watching the end of Unforgiven (Little Bill is a mean cuss, but I digress). Did see Dunn's miss of second on the replay. When we were up by 4 runs or so I told my husband that we needed to pile on and be on the winning end of a laugher, and that I'd feel comfortable with about a 14-2 lead in late innings. Well, they almost got there. All right, Nats!

I got greedy and was hoping that Bard would get all his so they could have 4 back-to-back HRs. I think it was the Dodgers who did that a few years ago. If memory serves, it was shortly after we traded Marlon Anderson to them (after he'd scored the winning run on a WP). I think Marlon may have been in on the hitting fun in LA that day.

I'm starting to feel that same way about the Bog, NatsNut.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 11, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

I guess I was the jinx. I go out for one lousy saturday night, come home, and WOW. I thought baseball tonights bottom line has been infiltrated and tinkered with when I saw the final score scroll across. Figures, biggest outburst since the relocation and I miss it. GO NATS, repeat this tomorrow so I can see it ... OK.

Posted by: cokedispatch | July 11, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Did it occur to you that the person who input the scores for Baseball Tonight might be dyslexic, coked? ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 11, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

An old fashion beat down just what the doctor ordered, big ups to J Will for a big time resurgence at the plate just think if this squad had a bullpen, yeah right no need to torture myself.

Posted by: dargregmag | July 11, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

1a...I guess that possibility should have crossed my feeble mind. I'm just glad that wasn't the case. GET EM 2morrow.

Posted by: cokedispatch | July 11, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Just think...should they be able to win on Sunday...they could go several days riding a winning streak with no fear of it being broken.

Posted by: cokedispatch | July 11, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

@cokedispatch: At the risk of inducing epic jinx, let's hope JZimm can do just that.

@everybody else: What's with the hate on Steinberg? I don't always like his stuff either but it has its moments IMO.

Posted by: Hendo1 | July 11, 2009 11:23 PM | Report abuse

p.s. I've been commenting about Burnett's work with the Nats for a while now. (Ow! My arm. I was only patting myself on the back a little bit. What gives?)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 12, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

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